Friday, August 12, 2016

August Update: Project timeline and publishing plans

I still haven't heard back about the 24-hour short story contest. I'm getting antsy about it. Should hear in another week or two, probably. I might do an interim post once I hear.

An interim post would be good, too, since that'll be right after MidAmericaConII. Which is less than a week away. I am completely overwhelmed and stressed out. But. My friend Dianne will be there with me. We've gotten to be good writing buddies lately. We're both very much on the same page as far as writing career, on the same trajectory, with her being maybe six months to a year behind where I'm at. We talk a lot about writing and ideas where with our other friends we talk about non-writing things more. I'm glad to have someone to trek through the wilderness with, because while having Rachel leaving us signs about the trail ahead on the path, she is sometimes so far ahead of me I can't hear her yelling back to me anymore, only see evidence of her passing.

Yeah. Weird analogy. I'm clearly deep within my right brain these days.

So, last month, I finished up the adventure novella. I'm not a hundred percent happy with it, but it is another adventure in that series written, so I am on track with that. It was also one I had been hung up on for awhile, so between that and ToK, I am in good shape as far as finishing my shit.

This month I'm working on editing my shit so it's not as, well, shitty. I spent the first week cleaning up some of the earlier adventure novellas and working out a more detailed series outline, and when I couldn't find anything else to do, I switched back to the MystWatch world about a week early.

No regrets, though.

I have ideas for a new opening for MoL. I haven't written it yet. I am having a hard time going back to book 1 with book 2 so fresh in my mind. So. I dove into ToK edits instead. That mostly consisted of a read-through taking detailed notes about all the things wrong with it. Now I am going to percolate for a few days before I dive in and start fixing it. And by a few days, I mean probably, like, a day or two. I'm actually really excited to start tearing it apart. I was overwhelmed a few times while reading, but there is a lot of really good stuff and the not as good stuff won't be too terrible to fix. I hope.

It's going to take some time. I will probably need all of next month, as I planned. But, with the rest of this month and all of next, I'm doing what is hopefully my final tweak on book 1 before sending it to be line edited and then doing my first extensive revision of book 2 to get it ready for beta readers.

Beta readers won't come until book 1 is clean, though. One or two of them have expressed desires to read book 1 in its edited form, so I want to be sure to have as clean a copy of that as I can.

And...once it's clean...I will probably start submitting it to publishers. I have a couple of smaller, hybrid presses in mind, and I will probably also kick it to the big ones: Tor, Daw, Baen. It will be nice if I can get on with Jolly Fish Press, which is one I found and just fell in love with, but if I don't, then putting it on submission with the bigger houses will give me more time to write book 3 and edit book 2. I'm in no hurry, really.

Except that I really am. I feel so far behind Rachel. And I only have four and change years left to reach my publishing goals. I'm on track to do that, still, so I know I need to relax. After really looking at my project timeline, and rearranging things a bit, if I follow it as well as I have been following it the last five months, it will be around summer of 2018 when I finally should start being able to reap rewards of the work I'm doing now.

Which seems like forever, but I know it'll go fast. The rest of this year is dedicated to final edit for book 1, first revision of book 2, and writing of book 3. Next year I should be done writing and editing all three and will have a complete trilogy on my hands.

Or rather, hopefully in someone elses hands. But if not, that's ok too. I will start self-publishing at that point.

Druid Wars will probably come next. That's what is on the list next as it currently stands. I also have Online Dating for Demons and Hero of Hunker City on deck. Those are both mostly written, unlike the first Druid Wars book, which is missing a huge chunk in the middle and probably a few connecting scenes, not to mention needing an entire rewrite of chapter 1 and maybe 2. It'll probably depend more on mood than size of editing project when the time comes, though. And somewhere in the hole, as the baseball analogy goes, are the Dante novels. But they are low down on the list for many reasons, first and foremost because the first book is not finished. That's a big project, when I finally clear my plate for it. I'd like to do it someday. It has the potential to be a five-book series. But that's for Future Sara to deal with.

In the meantime, I'm deeply entrenched in the MystWatch world with the occasional jaunt into my adventure series to give me a break. Fatigue is a real thing. So is utter revulsion at how terrible everything is sometimes. Thankfully it passes and my motivation to keep plugging comes back.

I'm like...this is HARD! It's too much! I'm so overwhelmed! And then I'll have a drink, joke around with the husband, go to bed, wake up and be like...oh hey! Puzzle! I wanna figure it out, now.

And then I do. Whether it's by letting my mind wander while I walk/drive/lie in bed or talking it out with friends and family, or just writing and rewriting stuff until it works, I know now that I will always figure stuff out. Sometimes all it takes is a few days thinking about something else, and the problem will solve itself. Sometimes it takes months for things to finally fit together in a way that makes sense.

I did actually read more since my last post. So that's good. I realized I hadn't had spent much time in input mode lately. It was all output. So, I am, as they say, breathing in. I'm reading books and watching Firefly again. Hopefully WorldCon will also give me a battery recharge.

All good things right now. Not saying it's easy, but I'm working hard so that things will continue to go well.

Although I think I'm going to need a long nap at some point. Maybe in October. So I can be ready for three months of writing book 3 starting in November!!

Monday, July 11, 2016

July Update: It's done! (and other stuff)

When I created my project timeline, I made it pretty intensive. It's a no-nonsense, stop screwing around and get serious, write as many days as you can sort of timeline. I admit, I was a little skeptical about whether I'd be able to keep up with it. The biggest challenge to that was whether or not I'd be able to finish writing Towers of Kansas--a book I've been writing on and off since 2012. I was starting to have my doubts it'd ever get done.

Well, it's finished. On the last day of June, I wrote "the end." Towers of Kansas is finally written.

Of course, when I say "finished," I do just mean written. It will need a great deal of editing work before I can even solicit the help of beta readers. But. Thanks to Brandon Sanderson, I've come to accept that I am a discovery writer. Even though I do plan a bit, a lot of stuff, like theme and underlying message, don't come to me until the very end of the book as I'm writing. So when I outline, I know I have to hit point, A, B, and C, but not sure how or why. I figure those things out as I write. Which sometimes adds extra time to projects because I sit and stare at the words for hours or rewrite a scene three or four times because it's not quite right.

All this means that when I rewrite, I go back and add a lot of things earlier in the book (and take out anything that contradicts what I'm trying to do) so that things at the end have a more inevitable, expected feeling. Makes the payoff better. Makes readers feel like, yeah, ok, I see where she was going in the beginning, and it only could have ended this way.

Brandon Sanderson's lectures have helped me identify a lot of the things I already do as a writer (not to mention advice on a lot of things I need to be better about), which means I can do those things with more intention instead of relying on instinct and happenstance.

At any rate. This month I've switched over to a novella, and it's been a breeze writing only about a thousand words a day instead of three thousand. I'm debating on whether I should throw another short story in to this month or if I should try to work on an editing project. Clearly I do not need a full month for these shorts. Although it might be good to include a bit of down time. I was feeling pretty fatigued after writing almost 45,000 words in June.

The project timeline is definitely a work-in-progress. But it's been a great motivator so far to actually get projects done. It feels good to be marking things off my list.

I even took a break over the weekend and participated in the Writers Weekly 24-hour short story contest. I never do summer. I always do fall. But. I'm super happy with my story. It's cute and fun and if it doesn't win money, I will be disappointed. Either way, I'll make sure to post it somewhere. Probably try to work it into a Cafe story (as a leftover at the very least).

That's been my one regret the past few months. I haven't made time to write Cafe stories. I've had ideas for the prompts, but one of them was a story within the world of my novel, so I decided to save it. The other I wrote a few beginnings for but then ended up writing a few hundred words in response to another story just for giggles. Luckily, the Cafe is continuing on without me. I still coordinate all the things, but we have enough other participants now that I don't have to feel like I have to write every month. It's equal parts sad and freeing.

I imagine I will feel the same about National Novel Writing Month in November. I officially resigned as ML for the Lawrence region. I think more and more I will have to stop doing things with and for the writing group as I focus more on my writing and publishing. It's both sad and exciting. The LFK Writers will always be my friends. I never would be the writer I am without them. They are my roots. But I am slowly pulling away from manager duties. Delegating things, letting more people take over things. It will always be the group I helped start. It will always be home. But I don't have to be in charge forever.

This entry took a sad turn.

I'm happy, though. I'm excited and anxious and motivated and ready.

Next month is WorldCon. I'm going for fun, but the husband is going to be on six panels. A few with famous people. I don't even know what to do with that. I'll probably talk more about it in next month's update. I just wanted to put that out there as something fun I was looking forward to.

This month...I'm going to try to read more. I've been slacking on reading lately. Now that I'm not trying to finish a novel, I have time to read. Yay reading! Because otherwise, what's the point of all this?

Monday, June 13, 2016

June Update: Convention Talk

Another ConQuesT behind me. I had a lot of fun, even if it didn't recharge my creative batteries as it usually does. The short version is that I drank too much (although Boulevard's raspberry chocolate ale is amazing) and that four panels in one day is to many.

I am an awesome moderator, though. I'm better designed for asking questions and prompting discussion and keeping people on task. It's what I do for the writing group, so it makes sense that I'd be good at it on panels. The NaNoWriMo panel was my favorite. It was a lot of fun. The LFK Writers panel was my second favorite. It was the first panel of the con, and we got a great turnout and people had great questions. The Writing Prompt panel was a bust, with only three people who showed up. The Publish Like the Pros panel was nice because it was the four of us from Bottle Cap talking about what we do. Lots of great questions there, too.

Then there were my two tough subject panels. The Creativity and Mental Health panel went about as well as it could have, although I regrettably didn't get much of a chance for audience participation. Everyone was very respectful and I think the audience really related to all of our panelists. The Creative Isolation panel was really tough. I didn't have many good questions for it, but it ended up generating some important, if difficult, conversations. Those panels were draining, but again, I feel like it's important to talk about those aspects of creativity.

I went to a few other panels, but found that I much prefer being on the speaking side. Maybe that would have been different if I had had a chance to see any of the guests speak. I think next year I am going to try volunteer behind the scenes rather than on panels, though. I've been toying with the idea of doing a literary festival in Lawrence sometime in the next five to ten years, so I'm trying to get involved in con planning so I know what to do.

Speaking of which, I have been pulled into planning the Midwest Reader Con with a lady I got to know at ConQuesT. This event is going to be HUGE. There's nothing really like it around here, so I am excited about it. But man, planning a con is a ton of work. I'm really glad my partner in crime, Kathleen Collins, is at the forefront, telling me what to do right now.

As if that wasn't enough, I still want to try to put out the vampire short story anthology (hopefully releasing it in time for the Reader con next year), and still keep up with the breakneck writing and editing pace I've set for myself.

Speaking of writing (since that's what this blog is actually supposed to be about), I am around the 85k mark for ToK, so that's coming along. Just gotta put some ducks in a row before I take off at full speed for the climax. I have two weeks left to finish before Camp Nano hits and I'm supposed to change projects. Dunno if I'll make it or not, but finishing this book is more important, so I'll keep at it until it's done.

My current plan is to write the final book at the end of this year, and then spend next year editing the last two books up. Having the completed trilogy before getting any of them published (whether traditional or self-published) will help a lot. I am never going to be able to write two books a year, so I have to rely on my back catalog, as it were, to sustain me once I start publishing.

I'm really doing this, friends. I still feel like I'm playing at this writer thing a lot of the time, but things are getting serious. I have a finished, polished novel. I have an almost completed sequel. I've freelance edited four novels and three collections. I have six short stories published (or will this fall). I'm involved in conventions. I'm starting my own publishing company.

I've come a long way in five years. I'm excited to see what the next five years brings.